Georgios Kyriakou Iacovou (born July 19, 1938) is a Cypriot diplomat who is currently the Cypriot Minister of Presidency. Iacovou served as Foreign Minister of Cyprus for two consecutive terms from September 1983 to 1988 and from 1988 to 1993 and for a third term from 2003 to June 2006, which makes him Cyprus' longest serving Foreign Minister. He served as High Commissioner of Cyprus to the United Kingdom. He is also known for his work on the rehabilitation of Greek Cypriot refugees and on persons of Greek origin living in the former Soviet Union.
Iacovou was born in the village of Peristeronopigi, in Famagusta District. He graduated from the Famagusta Gymnasium. From 1955 to 1960, Iacovou was a student in the United Kingdom and was active in student politics and Greek Cypriot community affairs.
From 1960 until 1964 he worked in the private sector in Cyprus. He worked as a Senior Consultant at the international enterprise Price Waterhouse in London, Principal Officer for Operational Research and later on as Senior Finance Officer of the Board of Directors of British Rail.
In 1972 he returned to Cyprus from the United Kingdom and was appointed Director of the Cyprus Productivity Centre, where he introduced new management methods in industry and commerce and pioneered programmes for continuing education of business executives. He pioneered a post-graduate management course that has been running for over thirty years. He also turned his attention to the upgrading of skills of artisans and technicians in many fields. Concurrently, Iacovou was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Hotel and Catering Institute of Cyprus (“HCI”) and under his stewardship the HCI became internationally known and was acknowledged accordingly on the island.
Following the Turkish invasion of 1974, he established and directed the "Service for the Relief and Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons" on directions from the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cyprus. He later also established the "Service for the Reintegration of Displaced Persons". Iacovou's work for refugees has had an important impact on subsequent developments in Cyprus including what has been dubbed the Cypriot "economic miracle". In this capacity Iacovou became a close associate of Archbishop Makarios, the first President of the Republic of Cyprus. He also became one of the most articulate advocates of the rights of displaced persons in Cyprus, who form a core issue of the wider Cyprus problem. His work in the field has been nationally and internationally acknowledged and his exposure to these people’s problems influenced his subsequent career. He is considered one of the ablest administrators of Cyprus and is often referred to as the technocrat with the big heart. From April 1976 until January 1979 he served as Head of the Africa Department of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Geneva.
From January 1979 until January 1983 he was Ambassador of the Cyprus Republic to the Federal Republic of Germany with parallel accreditation to Austria and Switzerland and later on he served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On 22 September 1983 he was appointed Foreign Minister and remained in this post until February 1993. His first appointment to this office came just before the illegal and unilateral declaration of "independence" by the Turkish Cypriot leadership in 1983. Nevertheless, he successfully pursued the condemnation of this action in the United Nations Security Council through the adoption of SC Resolutions 541 and 550. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he negotiated Cyprus’ Customs Union Agreement with the then European Economic Community (“EEC”) in 1987 and in 1990 he submitted the application of Cyprus to join the EEC. In 2003 Mr Iacovou signed the Treaty of Accession of Cyprus to the European Union (“EU”).
Later on he was appointed by the Greek Government President of the National Foundation for the Reception and Resettlement of Repatriated Greeks. His programme for the integration of several hundred thousand persons of Greek origin returning to Greece from the former Soviet Union was met with great success. He masterminded operation Golden Fleece, the liberation of fifteen hundred men, women and children of Greek origin from the besieged city of Sukhumi in Abkhazia and later participated in a similar operation in the city of Groznyy in Chechnya. Iacovou founded several University Departments for the teaching of the Greek language in countries of the former Soviet Union.
Following his return to Cyprus in 1997 he ran for office in the February 1998 presidential election as an independent candidate supported by the political parties AKEL and DIKO. He lost, by a narrow margin, to the incumbent President of the Republic, Glafcos Clerides.
On 1 March 2003 he was appointed Foreign Minister in the new government of President Tassos Papadopoulos. He served as Foreign Minister until June 2006. In October 2006 he was appointed as High Commissioner to United Kingdom.
Iacovou was awarded many honours, distinctions and medals from many countries, Universities and organizations amongst which are:
The Grand Cross of Merit, Federal Republic of Germany
The Grand Cross of the Order of Phoenix, Hellenic Republic
The Grand Star of the Decoration for Services to the Republic of Austria
The Grand Cross of the Order of Isavel La Catolica, Kingdom of Spain
The Grand Cross of the Order of Honour, Hellenic Republic
The Grand Cross of the Order of Infante D. Henrique, Republic of Portugal
The Decoration of the Battalion of the Yugoslav Flag
The Decoration of the Arab Republic of Egypt
The Decoration of the Cross of St. Mark of the 1st order of the Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa
Decoration of St. Catherine's Monastery of Sinai.
Honorary Doctorate of the Athens Panteion University, of Political and Social Sciences
Medieval Greece / Byzantine Empire
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